My aunt's fingers deftly measured the spices, fresh grated ginger, fenugreek, cardamon, cumin, black and red pepper. The spices sizzled in the hot oil as she stirred quickly. The fragrance hit my nose, sharp and sweet at once. She added diced vegetables and tomatos, and some liquid, stirring until the curry began to simmer and blend. While the sauce simmered, she cooked the rice; rinse rice in saucepan, then fill with water one knuckle above rice, bring to a boil, then cover and simmmer on very low. Perfect every time.
Those savory meals at my cousins' house often began with a thwack—the sound of an axe hitting wood. Though I don't remember details of the slaughter, I do remember the chicken running frantically, headless, before finally laying to rest on the grass. After a brief moment when all life seemed to stop, we were back to playing on their vast farm, only to meet the chicken again at mealtime.
My Uncle Sailen, who passed away a number of years ago, came from India. My aunt, who is of Swedish descent, learned to cook delicious Indian food to keep him close to home. I don't remember a lot of the specific recipes that she made, but I do remember that I learned to love Indian food early on during these family visits. And to this day I still love it!
When we recently received a bounty of green beans in our CSA share, I decided to make Gujarati Green Beans. It is a simple and delicious way to prepare beans. This is a vegetarian dish. My chickens remain safely in their coop—for now.
Gujarati Green Beans (from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian cooking)
1 lb fresh green beans
4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp whole black mustart seed
4 cloves garlic—peeled and crushed
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
ground black pepper
crushed red pepper, to taste
Clean and trim beans.
Parboil beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
Heat oil in skillet
When hot, heat mustard seeds until they pop, then add in garlic.
Stir quickly for a minute or less.
Add chili, then green beans, salt and sugar.
Stir to mix.
Cook for 7-8 minutes, then season with black pepper.